NAB CEO speaks at Trans-Tasman Business Circle on the economy, scams & fraud and AI

National Australia Bank

At a Trans-Tasman Business Circle Event in Auckland, NAB Group CEO Andrew Irvine shared his views on Australia and New Zealand, and what economic, business and technology opportunities present for both nations.

“One of the things we need to remember is Australia and New Zealand are probably two of the best countries in the world in which to live and work. Sometimes we forget that,” Mr Irvine said.

“Australia and New Zealand have a very shared history, we have very similar geopolitical and regulatory environments, a lot of our citizens spend time in each in each other’s countries.

“I think there’s much more we can do together. One of the things I’d love to see between NAB and BNZ is more facilitation of businesses who are seeking to grow and expand in both jurisdictions.”

Commenting on the economies of Australia and New Zealand, Mr Irvine said: “Right now obviously due to the need to fight inflation in both markets, interest rates are quite a bit higher than they have been in the recent past, and that’s dampened economic growth.

“What we’re seeing in both markets is that people are generally getting by. They’re having to juggle, they’re having to make choices, they’re having to budget, but in both markets, I think they’re doing that successfully.”

“More broadly, both economies in Australia and New Zealand are doing much better than expected, and in Australia we’re anticipating continued economic growth of around 1 per cent.”

Scams and fraud: a plague of our times

Mr Irvine said there was nothing that took up more of his attention than scams and fraud.

“It’s a plague of our times, frankly, where bad people are trying to take your hard-earned money,” he said.

“We spend a lot of time with our colleagues and with our customers, educating them on the risks and to be more fraud and scam aware.”

“People are starting to become a bit more scam aware and we’ve certainly added significant capabilities, a little bit more friction in some of the payment processes so that we’re making it harder for the bad guys.”

But Mr Irvine added there was still a lot of work to do.

“The areas of cyber, privacy and fraud and scams are exactly where I should be spending my time.”

Artificial Intelligence will make jobs easier

Mr Irvine also added artificial intelligence (AI) was going to be both a huge opportunity and a threat.

“I think for the foreseeable future, we’re going to make people’s jobs easier, take away the mundane and allow people to focus on where human beings can add more value,” he said.

“People often worry about new innovation and technology and that it is going to fundamentally disrupt the relationship between labour and capital and therefore need less workers. But it’s also true that every big innovation or technological leap, in the history of mankind, has created more jobs than it’s taken away.

“Banks 50-60 years ago would have had thousands of people in their typist floors. We don’t have typists anymore and yet we employ more people than we did then.

“The implication often is the nature of work changes and that what’s important is that you enable the workforce to rescale and move to where the economy is going, versus where it’s been.

“But then over time, we’ll see. I think there’s also a potential dark side to it. If you think about frauds and scams, I think AI is going to provide a real additional threat.”

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